Dr Lynn Margulis
Microbiological Collaboration of the Gaia Hypothesis
Currently a distinguished professor at the University of
Massachusetts Amherst, the faculty home page for
Dr Lynn Margulis plays down the
scale of achievements which, against much opposition, Lynn Margulis
has achieved over the last few decades.
The data on this page
tells us that Lynn Margulis:
is a Member of
the National Academy of Science
of Chicago in 1957
M.S. at the
University of Wisconsin in 1960
Ph.D. at the
University of California, Berkeley, in 1963
Postdoctoral achievements in:
Sherman Fairchild Fellow, California Institute of
1983 - AŮo
SabŠtico en EspaŮa
It concludes with a
description of her current (1993) work concerning Microbial Symbionts and
Organelle Heredity, and a short list of authored books
For that great cross-section of the populace who have little or no
knowledge concerning the field of microbiology, it might seem that
those who study algae, slime, bacteria and simple plant life are out
on a limb by themselves, so to speak. And seemingly, this was
exactly where Lynn Margulis placed herself when she commenced to
contend with the traditional theories of cell evolution.
In reference to the Gaia Hypothesis, Lynn Margulis has been
Lovelockís principal collaborator for twenty-five years. She is an
expert on the role that microorganisms play in evolution. In the
late 1960ís, at the same time that the Gaia Hypothesis was first
being stated, Margulis first put forward her creative theory of endosymbiosis.
And very much like the Gaia Hypothesis when it was
first formulated, the concept was so new and required such a degree
of leading edge specialized information, that it was often
completely misunderstood - not only by researchers in unrelated
fields, but also by her peers.
A good question ... and based on the luxury of over two decades of
further research work in the area, a definition of this conceptual
process is relatively easy to obtain, however this was not always
Briefly, we might say that endosymbiosis attempts to specify the
relationship between organisms which live one within another in a
mutually beneficial relationship with one serving as a host cell
(the boss cell) and another the symbiont (the dependent organism)
which resides within the host cell.
The definition of endosymbiosis to those unfamiliar with the
classifications of sub-cellular entities, seems to be made complex
by the use many technical microbiological terms. Therefore at early
this point in the review of Lynn Margilisí contribution to the
Hypothesis it might be simply best to quote a reference of the then
existent model of cell evolution (the Autogenous Model) which
assumed that everything arose from the one organism.
explanation of the new Endosymbiotic Model is courtesy of the
Biology Dept at the University of Alberta and which contains a
useful diagram presented in connection with the following
"Lynn Margulis is a
major developer of and contributor to this endosymbiotic theory
put forward in her 1981 book "Symbiosis in Cell Evolution". She
proposes that the ancestors of eukaryote cells were symbiotic
consortiums of prokaryote cells with one or more species (endosymbionts)
This theory holds up the best for the origin of
chloroplasts (in this case a photosynthetic prokaryote such as a
cyanobacterium would be the endosymbiont) and mitochondria
(perhaps an aerobic heterotroph). The progenitor of the
mitochondria or chloroplast could have gained entry into a host
prokaryote as undigested prey or as an internal parasite after
which the "arrangement" quickly became mutually beneficial to
both .partners (the "host" cell and the endosymbiont). As they
became more interdependent an obligatory symbiosis evolved.
I will attempt a
Suppose we were investigating the life-form on
another planet which looked and behaved exactly like a modern day
motor vehicle. It is clearly composed of parts - machinery which
works together. The traditional theories would examine this mythical
being in terms of being evolved from some single fundamental part.
endosymbiotic theory would suggest that instead the currently
existent "car organism" has evolved from a cooperative evolution of
a number of its constituent parts acting in some accord. Keep in
mind here that we must apply this analogy back to the microscopic
constituents of a living cell. While this example may raise
microbiological eyebrows I would hope that it provides illumination
to a number of home mechanics.
Effectively, Lynn Margulis contended that symbiosis,
mutation, was the driving force behind evolution and that the
cooperation between organisms and the environment are the chief
agents of natural selection -- not competition among individuals.
She says that "Darwinís grand vision was not wrong, only incomplete."
This was a little much to handle for some of her critics, and at
first her theory was not accepted, especially in its original
appearance alongside that of the Gaia Hypothesis:
There were two
fundamental components of Lovelock and Margulisís
the planet is,
in Margulisís words, a "super organismic system"
evolution is the
result of cooperative not competitive processes
At that time in 1969,
her paper was rejected by over a dozen scientific journals because
no one knew how to evaluate it. Finally, after a long and hard
struggle against peer-reviewed resistance, she prevailed. The extent
of vision and perseverance with her emerging theory is often
measured by the reviews of critics.
It is therefore quite rewarding
to find that one of the leading critics of the Gaia Hypothesis,
Richard Dawkins, in reference to the separately contrived theory by Margulis states the following:
"I greatly admire
Lynn Margulisí sheer courage and stamina in sticking by the
endosymbiosis theory, and carrying it through from being an
unorthodoxy to an orthodoxy. This is one of the great
achievements of twentieth-century evolutionary biology, and I
greatly admire her for it."
At the present time in
contemporary scientific circles, what was once regarded as an absurd
speculation is now taken as self-evident truth.
Most recent biology
textbooks include reference to Lynn Margulisí theory of
endosymbiosis, the majority of them put it forward as the most
likely explanation of the origin and evolution of life on the planet
we know as Earth.
Evolution - The Turning Point
It may seem that a review of Lynn Margulisí work in the area of
microbiology would hardly be advantaged by the information presented
by a theoretical high-energy physicist.
Nevertheless, such is the
case. The American physicist Fritjof Capra, received his Ph.D. on
the gravitational collapse of neutron stars from the University of
Vienna in 1966 where he studied with Werner Heisenberg. He taught
and researched theoretical high-energy physics at Orsay in Paris
from 1966-1968, the University of California in Santa Cruz from
1968-1970, Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre, and at the Imperial
College in London.
In 1975 in London, the first of Capraís books was published entitled
"The Tao of Physics" in which he observes that the emerging
world-view of theoretical particle physics - ie: the most
fundamental material substrate describable by the scientific
"bootstrap" description of nature - bears striking similarity to the
world-views of the ancient Eastern sages which were forthcoming
2,500 years before the beginning of particle physics.
In the year of 1982, Fritjof Capra published a second book entitled
Turning Point" - Science, Society, and the rising
culture. A compelling vision of a new reality. A reconciliation of
science and the human spirit for a future that will work.
second work he expressed a development of these earlier ideas, and
in which the work of Lynn Margulis receives mention in a section
entitled "The Systems View of Life" - (Page 288).
In classical science
nature was seen as a mechanical system composed of basic
building blocks. In accordance with this view, Darwin proposed a
theory of evolution in which the unit of survival was the
species, the subspecies, or some other building block of the
biological world. But a century later it has become quite clear
that the unit of survival is not any of these entities. What
survives is the organism-in-its-environment.
An organism that thinks only in themes of its own survival will
invariably destroy its environment and, as we are learning from
bitter experience, will thus destroy itself.
From the systems point of view the unit of survival is not at
entity at all, but rather a pattern of organization adopted by
an organism in its interactions with its environment; or, as
neurologist Robert Livingston has expressed it, the evolutionary
selection process acts on the basis of behaviour.
In the history of life on earth, the coevolution of microcosm
and macrocosm is of particular importance. Conventional accounts
of the origin of life usually describe the build-up of higher
life forms in microevolution and neglect the macro-evolutionary
aspects. But these two are complementary aspects of the same
evolutionary process, as Jantsch has emphasized.
perspective microscopic life creates the macroscopic conditions
for its further evolution; from the other perspective the
macroscopic biosphere creates its own microscopic life. The
unfolding of complexity arises not from adaptation of organisms
to a given environment but rather from the co-evolution of
organism and environment at all systems levels.
When the earliest life forms appeared on earth around four
billion years ago-half a billion years after the formation of
the planet-they were single-celled organisms without a cell
nucleus that looked rather like some of todayís bacteria. These
so-called prokaryotes lived without oxygen, since there was
little or no free oxygen in the atmosphere. But almost as soon
as the microorganisms originated they began to modify their
environment and create the macroscopic conditions for the
further evolution of life.
For the next two billion years some prokaryotes produced oxygen
through photosynthesis, until it reached its present levels of
concentration in the earthís atmosphere. Thus the stage was set
for the emergence of more complex, oxygen-breathing cells that
would be capable of forming cell tissues and multicellular
organisms. The next important evolutionary step was the
emergence of eukaryotes, single-celled organisms with a nucleus
contained the organismís genetic material in its chromosomes. It
was these cells that later on formed multicellular organisms.
According to Lynn Margulis, co-author of the Gaia hypothesis,
eukaryotic cells originated in a symbiosis between several
prokaryotes that continued to live on as organelles within the
new type of cell.
We have mentioned the two kinds of
organelles - mitochondria and chloroplasts - that regulate the
complementary respiration requirements of animals and plants.
These are nothing but the former prokaryotes, which still
continue to manage the energy household of the planetary Gaia
system, as they have done for the past four billion years.
In the further evolution of life, two steps enormously
accelerated the evolutionary process and produced an abundance
of new forms.
The first was
the development of sexual reproduction, which introduced
extraordinary genetic variety.
The second step
was the emergence of consciousness, which made it possible
to replace the genetic mechanisms of evolution with more
efficient social mechanisms, based upon conceptual thought
and symbolic language.
While the research work
of Lynn Margulis in the area of cell evolution was gradually being
accepted, her collaboration with Dr James Lovelock in the
formulation of the Gaia Hypothesis was often viewed in a critical
Nevertheless, such an environment did not seem to daunt her
scientific progress in many areas, neither did it hinder her
publication and joint publication of a number of articles, reviews
and books in the interim period of the 1970ís and 1980ís in which
debate on the Gaia Hypothesis raged within scientific circles and -
indeed more so - outside of these.
From the web record of a paper presented by request to the Tjalling
Koopmans Distinguished Lecture Series, IIASA, Luxemburg - 13
September 1995 we learn a little more about the background of Lynn Margulis ...
spanning a wide range of scientific topics, range from
professional to childrenís literature and include fourteen
authored or coauthored books. She has made contributions to
research on cell biology and on microbial evolution. From 1977
to 1980, she chaired the National Academy of Scienceís Space
Science Board Committee on Planetary Biology and Chemical
Evolution, aiding in the development of research strategies for
She received a NASA
Public Service award in 1981. A member of the Commonwealth Book
Fund advisory board (chaired by Dr. Lewis Thomas), she
co-directs NASAís Planetary Biology Internship (PBI) Program,
administered through the Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole.
She has participated in the development of science teaching
materials at levels from elementary to graduate school. With
students and colleagues, she has recently published a handsome
middle school unit: "What Happens to Trash and Garbage? An
Introduction to the Carbon Cycle". She continues to collaborate
with James E. Lovelock, F.R.S., on investigations concerning his
Her current projects
include studies of the bacterial symbionts of termites and of
protists from microbial mat communities. Nearly thirty years
after she first proposed it, Margulis continues to work out the
consequences of the modern serial endosymbiosis theory.
Symbiogenesis is widely accepted as the mechanism of origin of
plastids (from cyanobacteria) and of mitochondria (from
respiring bacteria) and can be taken as proven.
In the following section
we will examine some of the ideas put forward by Lynn Margulis in
many areas - not necessarily directly related to the Gaia Hypothesis
- quite often tangentially interleaved. Possibly the most important
item of understanding that should be assimilated is the nature of
the emergence of the interdisciplinary science now known as
present in every domain of the earth, from the upper reaches of the
atmosphere, to the depths of the ocean, from the volcanically heated
pools of sulphurous water to the interior worlds of all other larger
living organisms ... these smallest of creatures are pretty
No doubt, this fact accords with the tremendous
difficulty that the early researchers faced - with Margulis in the
forefront - concerning the establishment of some form of
classifications across this huge interdisciplinary platform.
Interdisciplinary Research continues
As Lynn Margulis chipped away at refinement of the endosymbiotic
theory of cell development and evolution, she always managed to find
time to turn her mind to other issues and research areas. In the
last few decades some of Lynn Margulisís works include:
She is also the coauthor, with
Schwartz, of Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of
Life on Earth (2d ed., 1988), and with Dorion Sagan of Microcosmos
(1986), Origins Of Sex (1986), and Mystery Dance (1991).
In a lively review of the book "Origins of Sex" we find the following
"So you thought you
knew all the different kinds of sex? Well what about these:
Amixis - absence
of meiosis and fertilization at any stage in the life cycle
syngamy or karyogamy of nuclei or sells derived from the
parthenogenetically produced haploid males and
amphimictically produced diploid females
Tychoparthogenesis - occasional partheogenesis
The basic argument
is that sexual processes come in a very wide variety of kinds
and are separate from reproduction in most taxa. The difficulty
is not explaining the evolution of sex - different sexual
processes have evolved multiple times, and have been lost
multiple times. It is not strange that almost all íhigherí
vertebrates use gametic meiosis, what is strange is that
of them have reverted to asexuality.
The explanation offered is
that due to historical developments sex has become so closely
linked to reproduction, embryology and development that it is
now an indispensable part of the life cycle.
It seems that Lynnn
Margulis purposefully turned her mind to the more fundamental
questions, and those which had been for much time left in the
too-hard basket. As a result of her research, although she received
a great deal of resistance from her contemporaries, she also made
enormous gains in the understanding of life processes, and opened
the way up for further research students to follow.
In the book
Microcosmos Margulis writes:
"No mammal cell can
retain undulipodia while it divides by mitosis. It is as if the
cell must use itís ancient spirochetal symbionts for one thing
or another, but not both."
In another book "The
Biophilia Hypothesis" Chapter 11 "God,
Gaia, and Biophilia" by Dorian Sagan and
Lynn Margulis we find
the following further reference to the revolutionary thinking
concerning the concept of a global Gaian life system:
"All life on earth
is a unified spatiotemporal system with no clear-cut boundaries.
Encouraging our biophilia, preserving blocks of biodiversity
before they are converted to concrete skyscrapers and asphalt
parking lots, is a way of enhancing the possibility that human
beings will persist into the future.
This future may be
indefinite, as some few species do not become extinct but "scale
back" and become symbiogenically attenuated and reintegrated
into new forms of life and patterns of living organization. If
we consider, for example, the ancestral oxygen-respirers that
evolved into the mitochondria of all plants, animals, and fungi,
we would have to say that this mitochondrial "species",
codependent as it is, has resisted extinction, surviving and
spreading (and still going strong) in multifarious forms for
some 2,000 million years.
Humanity seems to
have been presented with an opportunity, rare in evolution, to
By allying ourselves more closely with once distant
life-forms, by affiliating ourselves biophyletically, not only
with the plants and animals whose ongoing demise weighs so
heavily at present on our memory, but also with the
waste-recycling, air producing, and water-purifying microbes we
as yet take largely for granted, we may be able to aid in the
flowering of earth life into the astronomically voluminous
reaches of space."
Clearly, in the later
years of the twentieth century, the nature of a very specific and
detailed ecological awareness was being born - both in terms of
cultural awareness outside the scientific disciplines yet also
The interdisciplinary research which was conducted
during this period was all very new to the scientific and
traditional disciplinary fields of biology, geology and the earth
and life sciences. It provided for the acceptance of a more global
and open-systems approach to the parameters which, since the
emergence of classical scientific thought with Newton and later
Maxell, had concentrated on the physical cause and effect phenomena
of closed and analytical Cartesian modeled systems.
The emergence of interdisciplinary research and activity in these
years began to provide alternative definitions and models to a new
body of contemporary scientific minds, and while there was yet a
great deal of resistance from those who felt obliged to retain the
traditional structuring of scientific thought, there was
nevertheless a gradual growth in an underground scientific culture
which involved itself and immersed itself in these concepts.
In the study of the Kingdoms of Nature, it was possibly Aristotle
who, in 350 BC, first published classification of the world into the
Mineral Kingdom (consistent of the raw material of earth, water and
air), the Kingdom of Plants and the Kingdom of Animals.
serves me correctly, he also classified the Kingdom of Man as a
separate kingdom owing to the emergence of reason as a sensibility
exhibited by man over and above that of the constituent members of
the Animal Kingdom. While this classification system might have been
widely held more than two thousand years ago, it was lost to the
dark ages and - like many of the current western paradigms - had to
be discovered once more and with the assumed assistance of the newly
emerged and shining light of cartesian reason which flourished in
the success of the downfall of geocentricity, and in the
illumination of the sacred quest of the natural and physical
scientist who set forth to re-explore the extent of the known world.
Taxonomy is often defined as the scientific process of the
classification of living things or organisms. In the history of
modern human understanding concerning the nature of living things it
was Linnaeus - (1707 - 1788) who developed a way to classify
organisms based on shared characteristics. Although he did not
believe in evolution, we now know that shared characteristics among
organisms is a strong argument for evolution.
Thus the Linnean
classification system is also a useful tool for studying how
organisms evolved (ie. their ancestry).
Related organisms are categorized into groups called taxa. The
higher the group in the category, the more inclusive it is. The
hierarchy for taxonomic groups (with the example) is:
In this manner, Linneas
once again reintroduced the ideas of kingdoms to the generic
understanding of mankind. However , possibly due to the absence of
the same natured form of the traditional Aristotlean reason, he
failed to classified man as distinct from his proposed two existing
kingdoms of living things, plant and animal.
When Darwin set forth his lifeís research work concerning the
observation of nature, from which the Darwinian Theory of Evolution
was born, he could not explain how variation arose or was maintained
in a population. Independently, seeing the world was then much
larger in the 1860ís than it is today, an Austrian monk - Gregor
Mendel, provided explanation by experimenting with flower
cross-pollination, and the beginnings of genetic research was
Others followed his footsteps, and technologies
The research of the current century, and particularly in
the last few decades, has exploded into a spectrum of
...each of which allowed a more detailed
understanding of life-processes. Each of which offered a new outlook
of the scientific observation of life.
Of such background, in collaboration with others in many areas, Lynn Margulis and
Karlene Schwartz published a comprehensive work
The Five Kingdoms (2nd Edition in 1988), which contained a
huge compendium of the 92 existing (living) phyla classified into
the microbiological perspective of five kingdoms.
Kingdom Animalia -
The Animal Kingdom - Multi-cellular motile organisms which feed
Kingdom Plantae -
The Plant Kingdom - Multi-cellular organisms which feed by
Kingdom Protista -
The Protist Kingdom - Protozoa and single-celled algae
Kingdom Fungi - The
Fungus Kingdom - Fungi
Kingdom Monera - The
Monera Kingdom - Bacteria and blue-green algae
Parallel to these
Kingdoms, but not included, are the Viruses.
The emergence of a fully
structured alternate classification of living organisms on the
planet earth did not please many of Lynn Margulisí peers, and there
is still great debates in the usenet newsgroups, especially in the
bio-evolution and bio-systematics, concerning the more appropriate
schema of the living kingdoms to be used.
In a recent review of the book "How the Leopard Changed its
Spots: The Evolution of Complexity" by Brian Goodwin,
Lynn Margulis demonstrates that she certainly maintains some
strong and individualistic opinions concerning the nature of living
beings and evolution.
These are often in contrast to those which are
maintained by the traditional mainstream physical sciences, and by
aligned researchers in the fields of cybernetics, artificial
intelligence, computer sciences and neural computing.
sees the superficial mechanico-physical explanation of life for
what it really is: a consequence of history, of shallow thinking
and of blind acceptance of our Judaeo-Christian heritage. Our
outrageous failure to adopt a more cosmopolitan, pensive and
truly scientific perspective is overtly displayed. In short, our
culture resists the true values of the scientific way of
knowing: we disdain observational patience leading to
open-minded description; we discourage eclectic methodologies;
and we dismiss attentive care, failing to recognize the
imperative, rather than the prerogative, nature of play.
criticism and accessible prose has got it right, in my view,
making How the Leopard Changed Its Spots a useful eye-opener,
especially for otherwise brainwashed biology and chemistry
students. His counter approach, the alternative to what he
properly criticizes, I see as far more problematic, however.
Goodwin lauds the virtues of morphogenetic field explanations.
However, he does not mean the "morphic field" of
Sheldrake -- Goodwin is no soft-headed mystic. His solution to
the origin of evolutionary and developmentally new structures
lies in new strategies: the use of complex, dynamic-system,
mathematical modelling to investigate the intrinsic action
embedded in matter itself, the inherent biophysical limitations
of heredity and the "myth of order-out-of-chaos". In other
words, he advocates a new "science of qualities".
Goodwin thus recognizes the problem clearly, but I find his
He appropriately concatenates a set of interrelated problems in
his perceptive insistence on whole organisms and their
relationships when he writes:
"the shrinking of the globe puts
all cultures at risk as we export our problems to other cultures
in the name of solutions. Nowhere is this more evident than in
the methods we propose for increased food production in the
Yet he is following a dead-end path in proffering an answer via
computer calculations of "cellular automata", settling "at the
edge of chaos as the íbestí place to be for maximum
adaptability". The idea of computer-generated "internal dynamic
properties that characterize the condition towards which a
complex system with hereditary variation will spontaneously
evolve" is, I believe, a scientific version of "boys with toys
Genuine investigations -- cytological, biochemical, genetic
(including the study of cytoplasmic heredity) and ultrastructural -- expose directly and more realistically the
condition towards which a complex system with hereditary
variation spontaneously evolves. Genuine insight into
morphogenesis, the emergence of form -- which passionately
interests Goodwin --comes not from computer models but from
intimacy with the microscopic and submicroscopic behaviours of
His Acetabularia whorls are parallel to the Hunza-like community
structures of the integrated cyanobacteria, proteobacteria and
thermoplasmas which comprise the much larger sparkling
chlorophyte alga -- just as the Himalayan terraces are products
of donkey-goat-people community interactions, though on a far
Goodwinís concerns must preoccupy all of us, especially biology
students, teachers and research scientists. But his proffered
strategies for resolving them fall short: they are more
amusements than resolutions, more chaotic than definitive, and,
ironically, less respectful of living organisms than they should
one would have to say that Lynn Margulis is not backward at coming
forward, and the issues which occupy her convictions are those
related to living things. Molecular biology has enabled Lynn Margulis and other specialist researchers to conduct a different
type of analysis on the characteristics of living organisms. As it
has eventuated, Lynn Margulis and others have more recently
determined that the emergent themes of their collaborative research
had been already partially explored and examined by independent work
outside of the US and UK.
In a further book review, on this occasion one entitled Concepts
of Symbiogenesis: A Historical and Critical Study of the Research of
Russian Botanists and printed Yale University Press, 1993, we
find that Lynn Margulis and McMeamin are editing a
collection of Russian research papers which stem back to the year
Many of the newest
ideas about geophysiology -- how life as a whole is more than
the sum of its parts--were actually first hatched by Russian
scientists at the turn of the century. When Margulis and
McMenamin stumbled on this survey of ideas much like Gaia and
Hypersea, they realized that science does not always proceed in
a straight line; they translated it and published it three years
What is Life?
As we have found in the preceding section concerning the formulation
Gaia Hypothesis by Dr James Lovelock,
this question would have been purposefully redirected by the
traditional physical sciences to the attention of counterparts in
the philosophy departments, possibly the biology department or,
dependent upon their cultural beliefs, possibly to the theological
The traditional stance
of the physical scientist is that he did not have to consider such
questions. Although this point has already been referenced earlier,
it is relevant to re-examine it with respect to the thinking of Lynn Margulis.
It concerns the influential doctrines of the physical
sciences which were eloquently and simply stated by Clerk Maxwell,
in his work
Matter and Motion in 1882:
Article 1 -
Nature of Physical Science
Physical Science is that department of knowledge which
relates to the order of nature, or in other words, to the
regular succession of events. The name of physical science,
however, is often applied in a more or less restricted manner to
those branches of science in which the phenomena considered are
of the simplest and most abstract kind, excluding the
consideration of the more complex phenomena, such as those
observed in living beings.
It is perhaps this
traditionally lifeless conceptualization of the parameters used in
the scientific specification of nature that aggravates the
sensibility of Lynn Margulis.
In collaboration with Dr James
Lovelock she can perceive the specifications of a globally
interconnected ecological system - and the basis of the parameters
for these specifications are alive - for the nature which is being
studied is best described as an ecosystem.
It is perhaps this respect for living systems which enables Lynn
Margulis to be able to present a lecture in Europe, in the
northern Autumn - September - of 1995 on the subject "What is Life".
The abstract to this lecture reads as follows:
"What is life?"
"What is life?" is a linguistic trap.
To answer according to the
rules of grammar, we must supply a noun, a thing. But life on
Earth is more like a verb. It is a material process, surfing
over matter like a strange slow wave.
It is a controlled
artistic chaos, a set of chemical reactions so staggeringly
complex that more than 4 billion years ago it began a sojourn
that now, in human form, composes love letters and uses silicon
computers to calculate the temperature of matter at the birth of
"What is life?" is a
scientific and philosophical exploration.
Along the way, it
explores the opposite question - what is death?; as well as
delves into the origins of life; Earthís status as a
super-organism; the biological connection between programmed
death and sex; the symbiotic evolution of the five organic
kingdoms (bacteria, protoctists, animals, fungi, and plants);
the solar basis of our global economy; and the startling
suggestion that life, not just human life, is free to act and
has played an unexpectedly large part in its own evolution.
In conclusion of this
section of the presentation concerning the current interdisciplinary
developments of the Gaia Theory in relation to Dr Lynn Margulis
I would have to say I respect of her usage of
the word surfing (global oceanic)
in such context.